When the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro launched in India, quite a lot of the conversation was about the almost identical specs and feature sets. Google’s latest smartphones are priced on the higher side internationally as well. But here in India, the difference feels a lot more pronounced. At Rs. 75,999, the Pixel is significantly more affordable than the 8 Pro (Rs. 1,06,999). So does it make sense to splurge for the Pro model, or should you just pick the 8? Having spent more than a month with the devices, I think I can answer that.
For starters, the Pixel 8 has a starting price that is much higher than its predecessor, the 7, and you only get 128GB of storage as standard. For those craving more storage, the 256GB variant is yours for Rs. 82,999.
Design and Build
Place the Pixel 8 beside its older sibling, the Pixel 7, and you’ll be hard-pressed to spot major differences at a glance. However, Google has subtly tweaked the design, making the Pixel 8 slightly smaller and, more importantly, a joy to hold and use. The glass back and matte aluminium frame are the same as last year, but with more pronounced curves at the edges and corners. The camera bar does feel a little chunkier with bigger cutouts.
Flip it over, and you’ll notice the Pixel 8’s front has more symmetrical side bezels with a slimmer bottom chin. It’s not perfectly uniform, but it’s a step forward. The tactile volume and power buttons, the SIM tray, the speaker, USB Type-C port, and microphones are all thoughtfully placed. On a whole, the 8 stands out from the rest of the smartphone world and looks and feels pretty good as well.
Display and Performance
The Pixel 8 flaunts a stunning 6.2-inch AMOLED display, protected by Gorilla Glass Victus, with a fluid 120Hz refresh rate. Out of the box, it’s set to 60Hz, but you can crank it up to 120Hz for a smoother experience. This screen shines (literally) with a peak brightness of 2000 nits, making it a significant step up from the Pixel 7. Whether you’re out in the sun or in dimly lit rooms, the display remains bright and vivid. I particularly like the colour reproduction of the displays on the 8 and 8 Pro. Paired with the fabulous new speakers on the 8, the device turns into a really good companion for media consumption. The sound is crisp and loud, easily far better than the 7.
The Pixel series has never been all about raw performance, and the Pixel 8 is no exception. It’s equipped with the Tensor G3 SoC, paired with 8GB LPDDR5X RAM and an Immortalis-G715 MP10 GPU. The Tensor chipset is geared towards AI features, and as a result, there isn’t a lot in terms of outright performance. That said, you can expect to get through the daily grind with ease. I encountered no issues with the usual combination of dozens of Chrome tabs open at once, music playback, Maps, some camera usage and the occasional gaming session.
Software and AI tools
On the software front, the Pixel 8 runs the cleanest version of Android, with some Pixel-exclusive bells and whistles. Think the Now Playing feature, Android 14’s lock screen customization, and improved Face Unlock. The new Audio Eraser, Best Take, and Magic Editor AI features are the icing on the cake. And yes, Google’s Bard chatbot integration with Google Assistant is on the horizon.
The Pixel 8 and 8 Pro’s new AI features have been the talk of the town. Do they do what they promise? Absolutely!
Audio Eraser? A total hit! It’s like a magic wand that erases unwanted background noise from your recordings – tried and tested by yours truly. Imagine recording serene wind chimes, and voilà, the bustling traffic noise is gone with a simple tap. Then there’s Best Take, a lifesaver at parties. Snap a few group pics and this nifty tool lets you pick the best faces for that perfect shot. The Magic Editor is where things get wild. It’s like having a mini Photoshop in your pocket – rearrange elements, swap backgrounds, even change the sky! But here’s the catch: it needs an internet connection and Google Cloud.
But, I can’t seem to shake the feeling that these tools aren’t that useful yet. To begin with, it just takes too much time for Magic Editor to work making it far from seamless, and even then the results aren’t always great. I am a cynic when it comes to some of these AI tricks on smartphones. But this is definitely a step in the right direction and they will only get better.
The Pixel 8’s 4,575mAh battery lasted me the whole work day on a consistent basis. Charging is now faster with 27W support, but still slower than some of its Android competition.
Cameras on the Pixel 8
You cannot really review a Pixel without spending a large amount of time using its cameras(it used to be a solitary back camera for way too long, but that’s a story for another day). The Pixel 8’s camera prowess, as I’d expected, is its crowning glory. The primary 50-megapixel rear camera (shared with the 8 Pro), with its new f/1.68 aperture lens, is said to bring in more light than the Pixel 7. The ultra-wide 12-megapixel sensor is now autofocus-enabled with a wider field of view. Plus, Macro mode is a new addition for close-up shots.
The Pixel 8’s camera app is now reimagined and feels much more intuitive to use. Disappointingly though, unlike the Pixel 8 Pro, the 8 lacks a manual mode. The camera app now supports Display P3 color space, unlocking a wider color spectrum for compatible displays. An added bonus is the extra metadata capture for Ultra-HDR in the Photos app.
The Pixel 8 consistently impresses with its high dynamic range and clarity, even in challenging lighting conditions. Google’s signature colour science still shines through with good contrast and coller tones. The improved ultra-wide sensor now delivers crisper images and reliable landscape shots, thanks to the new autofocus feature.
Night Sight and Astrophotography modes remain Pixel’s strong suit, now enhanced by faster processing with the Tensor G3 chip. The Pixel 8 doesn’t disappoint in versatility, offering modes like Action Pan, Long Exposure, Portrait, and Panorama, with noticeable improvements in processing speed.
Portrait photography is elevated with 1.5x and 2x zoom options, capturing detailed images with accurate exposure and skin tones. I particularly liked the 2x portrait option. The selfie camera is strong too, with a 10.5-megapixel sensor offering both standard and ultra-wide options, delivering quality shots across various lighting conditions.
In video recording, the Pixel 8 excels with up to 4K 60fps capabilities on all cameras, but the primary rear camera is the star, offering stunningly detailed and stable footage, rich in color and dynamic range.
Should you buy it?
So what is it that the Pixel 8 misses out on then. Not much actually. The lack of a manual mode is one, but that shouldn’t bug too many people. Of course, the 8 is much smaller, and as a result, it gets a much smaller display (6.2 vs 6.7) and lower pixel density. Also, the 8 Pro gets Corning Gorilla Victus 2 protection, while the 8 gets the Victus. More important to a lot of buyers would be the fact that the 8 uses the Pixel 7’s 12MP ultrawide camera, and doesn’t get a telephoto while the 8 Pro gets a much better 48MP ultrawide and gets a 48MP telephoto as well. That aside, there is a temperature sensor on the 8 Pro that the 8 doesn’t get.
Most people then don’t end up missing out on a lot when it comes to getting the 8 vs the 8 Pro. But what about the 8 objectively? With an impressive hardware and software package, the Pixel is a very good camera phone for the price. It doesn’t have the performance of some other Android smartphones but that has never been something Google has really gone after. Plus, there is the peace of mind that comes with 7 years of software updates, something no other phone manufacturer offers. Yes, it is expensive, but the Pixel offers quite a bit for the money.